After two months, I finally feel like I am settling into motherhood. In the foggy haze of these early days, it simultaneously feels like I have been a parent forever and for no time at all. The transition into motherhood was unexpectedly difficult for me. Since I have wanted to be a mother since I was a young child, I anticipated that the transition would be natural and instinctual. It never occurred to me that I may feel otherwise.
While not all women feel the same, I loved pregnancy. I enjoyed watching my body change, feeling the baby’s kicks and movements, and experiencing the joy of carrying a child. It helped, of course, that my pregnancy was virtually symptom-free—as far as I was concerned, there weren’t any aspects not to love.
When we found out our daughter was growth restricted and would therefore be arriving a few weeks earlier than anticipated, my heart grew heavy. I wasn’t ready for my pregnancy to be over, for this part of the journey my baby and I embarked on to come to a close. I wanted to stay pregnant forever. My body didn’t feel ready to give birth; I wasn’t yet ready to meet my daughter.
I told my husband that I needed more time. If I could somehow be pregnant longer, maybe I would find the emotional and physical connection I needed to say goodbye to my deeply loved pregnancy and welcome a new beginning with the birth of our daughter.
When the big day arrived, I went into the hospital conflicted. Even with more time, I hadn’t been able to shift my unwanted emotions. Yet, I still felt hopeful. After reading so many stories of mothers feeling an instant deep love for their children during birth, I anticipated that these feelings would overtake me when the moment arrived.
During the C-section—when the doctors lifted my daughter over the curtain and I laid eyes on her for the first time—I felt taken aback. While I had no idea what she would look like, her actual appearance took me completely by surprise. The birth experience was shocking to me in a way I did not expect.
When they handed her to me for the first time minutes later, she felt like someone else’s baby. I felt detached and confused. Where was the instant love and connection I was supposed to feel? What kind of mother was I going to be if this is how I felt in these early moments?
I didn’t learn this until later, but over 40% of women do not bond with their babies right away. Even though my husband and I took childbirth education and early parenthood classes, our instructors did not touch on this subject. I wish I had been told my feelings were normal, that parenthood is an enormous adjustment and that sometimes it takes time for emotions to sort themselves out. Instead, I felt like I was somehow failing at this job I just began.
The next couple weeks were rough for me. I had a difficult recovery due to the C-section and resulting complications. I struggled to do the most basic of tasks, unable to sit upright or walk without enormous amounts of pain. Breastfeeding was not going well. Since Baby N was born early and weighed so little, it was vital for her to get the calories she needed to grow, but she also didn’t have the energy necessary to feed. I had to deal with the reality that I would not be able to provide milk for my daughter in the way I had planned.
The postpartum hormones hit me harder than I anticipated. I couldn’t even think about my pregnancy without bursting into tears. I was grieving the loss of being pregnant, of my life before having a child. Even though I’ve wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember (I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant), I was dealing with unexpected feelings of remorse—and then guilt that I could ever have these emotions at all. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation only intensified everything I was experiencing.
Life with a newborn is hard.
It was several weeks before I found myself in a better place, before I was able to fully bond with and enjoy time with my daughter. Now, of course, I can’t imagine life without her—her big smiles, goofy mannerisms, and love for sleepy snuggles.
My transition into motherhood was not beautiful or graceful. It has taken time for me to accept that reality doesn’t always match expectations and that’s okay. I expect I will learn this lesson over and over again in my new role as a parent.
Right now, the fog of early parenthood has not completely dissipated, but it is starting to lift. I am still working on finding my new identity both in and out of parenthood. One lesson I have taken away from the transition to motherhood is to have grace with myself.
One day at a time. Everything will eventually fall into place—it always does.
Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts feature a baked, cake-based doughnut. To prepare, blueberries are folded into a vanilla-scented batter. A cinnamon crumble is sprinkled over the top before baking. For best texture, these doughnuts should be enjoyed the same day they are baked, but I still savored the leftovers a day or two later.
Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts
Yields 6-8 doughnuts
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk
4 ounces (113 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a standard-size doughnut pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk until uniform. Fold in the blueberries.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or large resealable plastic kitchen bag with the corner snipped off). Fill the depressions in the prepared pan with the batter until 2/3 full (alternatively, you could spread the batter into the pan using an offset spatula, but this results in more unevenly shaped doughnuts).
For the crumble topping, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in flour and cinnamonuntil crumbly. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until crumble topping browns and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.